AC: "Been there, done that."
ANDERSON COOPER: With the battle over Iraq now consuming Washington, we turn to CNN's Michael Ware for his take on what they're all fighting about.
How long do you think it's going to be before there's a sense of change on the ground or whether or not this policy is working? I mean, we have heard from George Casey, who says, look, by March, we should know whether al-Maliki's government is living up to their promises.
But, militarily, it doesn't seem like that's enough time to let the -- to see any change in the strategy, whether that's working or not.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I mean, it's a shame to say, but I don't think we really need until March to know where the Maliki government is going to be.
COOPER: You think we already know?
WARE: Oh, of course we already know. We have been round this circle time and time again.
The Bush administration has turned to the Maliki government as a fully fledged partner over and over and over, yet it has failed to deliver every time.
COOPER: They say, this time is different. They say, they see something in Maliki.
WARE: They have said that many times in the past, too.
And we saw President Bush, in the State of the Union address, as quickly as he came out and said, we're now relying and calling upon the Iraqi government even more than before, immediately he almost chided or lectured them, and said we're now looking for you to deploy more troops, to confront the radicals, and to pull back these unnecessary restrictions.
So, I don't really think we need until March. And, for the military strategy, at the end of the day, Anderson, this new strategy, the surge of 21,500 troops, is not new.
COOPER: But, you know, critics will say, look, how can you say that, because what is new is having troops living with Iraqi troops in...
COOPER: (LAUGHTER) You're not even letting me finish the sentence.
WARE: Been there, done that. I mean...
WARE: To some degree, this is an adoption, and extrapolation upon the model we saw used in the town of Tal Afar, near the Syrian border...
WARE: ... since adopted in Ramadi, the -- essentially, the headquarters of al Qaeda.
So, yes, this will put more pressure on the death squads, on the militias, on the insurgents in Baghdad. And, yes, it will force them to adapt. But it just displaces them. Does it destroy them? Does it wipe them out? Does it change the dynamics that drive them? Absolutely not.
COOPER: And this is a learning enemy. They learn from -- they...
WARE: Oh, it's an adaptive -- and even President Bush called them that last night in the State of the Union.
And 21,500 troops, you might as well not bother, Anderson. That's a drop in the bucket.
COOPER: I want to play something that Vice President Cheney said to Wolf Blitzer today about Iraq, and then talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM")
BLITZER: You trust Nouri al Maliki?
CHENEY: I do. At this point, I don't have any reason not to trust him.
BLITZER: Is he going to go after Muqtada al Sadr, this anti-American...
CHENEY: I think...
BLITZER: ... Shiite cleric, who controls this Mahdi army?
CHENEY: I think he has demonstrated -- I think he has demonstrated a willingness to take on any elements that violate the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What do you think of that?
WARE: I think, with all due respect, the vice president is spinning yet another line.
I mean, does he have any reason not to trust Nouri al-Maliki? No, he can trust him to do exactly what he's been doing. An, when it comes to the rebel anti-American cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who has the blood of American soldiers on his hands, we know exactly what Maliki is going to do there, which is essentially nothing. He can't afford to.
If he moves against Muqtada, it tears not only his government but the country, apart. Muqtada put him in power. And, militarily, neither the Iraqi security forces, even if they wanted to -- and they don't -- nor the coalition or American forces, have the ability to crush Muqtada, even militarily.
But Muqtada represents more than just tens of thousands of militia fighters. He is a movement. He has mobilized the disenfranchised Shia poor. So, Muqtada is now a movement, not just a military enemy. He can't be wiped out like that.
COOPER: That is scary.
Michael Ware, thanks. Appreciate it.